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Dalton Trans. 2007 Jan 7;(1):154-62. Epub 2006 Nov 9.

Transesterification and amide cis-trans isomerization in Zn and Cd complexes of the chelating amino acid ligand Boc-Asp(Dpa)-OBzl.

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Institute for Inorganic Chemistry, University of Freiburg, Albertstr. 21, 79104, Freiburg, Germany.


The amino acid derivative Boc-Asp-OBzl (Boc=N-butyloxycarbonyl; Asp=aspartic acid; Bzl=benzyl) was functionalized by coupling its carboxylate side chain to dipicolylamine. This yielded the tridentate nitrogen donor ligand Boc-Asp(Dpa)-OBzl (-OBzl). The compound -OBzl contains three different carbonyl groups: a tertiary amide linkage between Asp and Dpa, a C-terminal benzyl ester function, and an N-terminal urethane protecting group. NMR spectra were used to compare the reactivity of these moieties. The Boc protecting group gives rise to two isomers, (E, 9%) and (Z, 91%). Coordination of Cd(NO3)2 and Zn(NO3)2 yielded the complexes and. These compounds have significantly reduced barriers to rotation about the tertiary amide C-N bond compared with the free ligand (-OBzl:18.5 kcal mol-1 in CDBr3;: 12.9 kcal mol-1 in (CD3)2CO;: 13.8 kcal mol-1 in (CD3)2CO). Both complexes readily undergo transesterification in methanol or CD3OD. Experimental pseudo-first order rate constants were determined in CD3OD and (CD3)2CO:CD3OD (3:1;). It was found that the zinc complex (k=(2.28+/-0.02)x10(-4) s-1) is significantly more reactive than the cadmium complex (k=(1.41+/-0.03)x10(-6) s-1). In order to study their tertiary amide cis-trans isomerization, the cadmium complex [(-OCH3)Cd(NO3)2] was synthesized, and the zinc complex [(-OCD3)Zn(NO3)2] was generated in situ in (CD3)2CO:CD3OD (3:1). The barriers to rotation were determined (:14.1 kcal mol-1 in CD3OD;: 13.4 kcal mol-1 in (CD3)2CO:CD3OD (3:1)). Our results show that the stronger Lewis-acid zinc(II) is significantly more active than cadmium(II) in the acceleration of the transesterification. This is in marked contrast to the tertiary amide bond rotation which is comparably fast with both metal ions.

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